July 2012 Message from Jim MazourDear 1960's decade JSA vets:
SUMMER 1973 AT JSA
This year's nationwide summer season heat wave brings back memories of the Summer 1973 in the JSA unit on the Korea DMZ. I arrived in country in early July 1973 to a hot summer that I had not experienced since growing up on a Kansas wheat farm in the 1950's and early 1960's. Eight United States Army Staff Historian's Office records for 1973 report, "One of Korea's hottest summers continues as temperatures hover at 95 degrees in Seoul. Adding to the heat and humidity is the absence of seasonal monsoon rains."
There was little relief to this heat on Camp Kitty Hawk. None of the metal single story barrack buildings or "hooches" that housed the enlisted personnel were air conditioned. We slept under mosquito netting that was suspended over our bunks by T bars. A few guys purchased small Japanese manufactured table fans, but most of us just lived with the oppressive heat. As I recall, there were two places for relief from this heat - The NCO club and the camp library both had air-conditioning.
This was before the time of bottled water, and our only container for water was the Army issued metal or plastic canteen. How me managed to keep hydrated remains a mystery to me. I do know that cold beer never tasted better than at the NCO club during the summer of 1973! I don't remember the Mess Hall being air-conditioned - is my recollection correct?. The small swimming pool located on the camp grounds was a popular spot that summer - until the water eventually reached the temperature of bath water. The metal building that served as the evening movie theatre was so hot inside after a day of cooking in the sun to make movie watching unbearable. There was no air-conditioning at any of the checkpoints or observation post at the Panmunjom. Our starched fatigue uniforms from the camp laundry felt like we were wearing cardboard. None of the Korean buses and taxis had air-conditioning. O's Snack Bar located just outside the camp was not air-conditioned, but that did not seem to stop the parties up there that went on most nights. I don't even recall the bars and tea houses in the villages having any air-conditioning. About the only relief was frequent cold showers in the camp's latrine building. It was one hot summer!
However, we all survived. And, we probably are better men for this experience. Personally, I would jump at the opportunity to again relive the summer of 1973 as a 23-year old soldier in the Joint Security Area unit on the Korea DMZ.
MORE INFORMATION ON 1955 AVIATOR PRISONER RELEASE AT PANMUNJOM
Following my last e-mail of April 2012, JSA veteran Henry Lee (55-56) of Falmouth, Kentucky sent me the following additional information about the 23 August 1955 North Korean return of wounded US Air Force pilot LT Guy Bumpas and the body of CPT Charles W. Brown at the JSA/Panmunjom:
I was there when this incident occurred. On 18 of August 1955 while patrolling the conference area at Panmunjom We heard antiaircraft fire in the distance and saw smoke from the guns about 10 miles away. This was off to the west and near to a small stream that runs through the valley. The officer of the day came to us and asked us to remember what we saw and heard. Later that day we learned one of our recon aircraft had been shot down. About 5 or 6 days later the communist returned the body of one of the pilots, CPT Charles W. Brown at the JSA/Panmunjom compound. Lt. Guy Bumpas was badly injured and was on a stretcher. His head was heavily bandaged. Present were North Korean officers and men, An American Colonel, two Swiss and Swede representatives of the Neutral Nations Inspection team. We had ambulances waiting.
Near that same time there was an incident involving one of our Small helicopters. I was standing near the guard shack going into the conference site.The helicopter came up the valley over the creek flying very fast and very low. Antiaircraft fire opened up from the hills to the north of the compound. The shells were bursting in the sky very close to us and the Truce site. Close enough that I could smell the smoke and feel the vibrations. The chopper flew about six feet off the ground and sat down very quickly on the Panmunjom Helipad. The pilot was really shookup. He had strayed about 200 feet over the line. Again the Lt. came and had us write down what we saw and heard. Wish I could remember the date. It was about four in the afternoon and it was in the summer of 1955.
Henry D. Lee
Thank you Henry for this information. Below is a link to an August 23, 1955 newspaper article entitled, "Weird Ceremony: Communists Free American Flier," that appeared in The Free Lance newspaper of Fredericksburg, Virginia. It is a very detailed account of the prisoner release.
And, below is a link to a news photo of the injured LT Bumpas - with the heavily bandaged head, as you described in Henry Lee's e-mail.
2013 KOREA TOUR
JSA veteran Raymond Jones (69-70) has been posting updated information on his planned 2013 return tour to Korea and international JSA veteran reunion with out Korean JSA oldboys brothers at Camp Bonifas and Panmunjom. Ray organized the wonderful 2009 tour to Korea and first international JSA veterans reunion, and I am confident that this second return tour to Korea will be equally successful. I enjoyed the first tour so much that I plan to be on this second return tour. Ray's tour includes an optional early four-day tour to Jeju Island (formerly Cheju Do), which will precede the regular 10-day tour of Korea.
On August 01, 1973 the Second Infantry Division's Rest and Relaxation (R&R) Training Center opened on Cheju Do, a resort island located about 60 miles off the southern coast of the Korean peninsula. The R&R compound , Camp McNab, had previously been a US Air Force radar site. I recall Armed Forces Korea Radio (AFKR) promoting this newly opened R&R facility during my 1973-74 tour, and I even considered taking my R&R to this island. However, I eventually decided to take my mid-tour R&R to Japan. I plan to be a part of this 2013 optional tour to Jejo Island to see what I may have missed some 40 years earlier.
For more information about this 2013 Korea tour, please go to Ray's website below:
NEW BOOK ABOUT JSA - 4 KM
Earlier this year, Raymond Jones of Winslow, Maine announced the publication of his new book entitled, 4 KM, which is a novel about a young American soldier serving in the JSA unit on the Korea DMZ. The young soldier meets and eventually marries a Korean woman who slowly reveals that she has a sister still living in North Korea. After his wife dies, the now middle-aged former soldier returns to Korea in an effort to rescue his late wife's sister. For more information about Jones' book 4 KM, please got this above link website, and click on 4 KM.
This is the third book about the JSA unit published by a JSA veteran. In 2003 John Sammon (72-73) of Pacific Grove, California published his novel, Freedom Pagoda; and in 2008 Lonnie Medley Jr (62-63) of Racine, Ohio published his non-fiction book, Panmunjon, Korea-The Meeting Place.
Everybody stay cool now.
Jim Mazour, JSA 1973-74
West Des Moines, Iowa
For JSA veterans by a JSA veteran www.jsasite.com